Beirut – Postcards From Italy (Tab and Chords)


Beirut – Postcards From Italy (Chords)

Beirut – Postcards From Italy (mp3) via beirutband.com

My recent Fluke acquisition reminded me of the video for Beirut’s Elephant Gun. While I was checking it out, I came across this impromptu performance Postcards From Italy and decided I had to work out the song.

Beirut mainman Zach Condon’s choice of ukulele wasn’t entirely voluntary. In an interview with Pitchfork he explained that after falling of a bridge age 14, “my left wrist is an inch-and-a-half shorter than my [right one] and doesn’t quite have the mobility to wrap around a guitar neck without a bit of pain.” I’d say falling off a bridge was a small price to pay for avoiding the fate of becoming a guitar player.

Postcards From Italy is divided into two halves. The first half has this riff repeated:

Beirut postcards from italy tab ukulele

If you’d rather strum chords through this section, moving between F and A will do it for you.

As the lyrics shift from the nostalgia in the first half of the song to the anticipation of the second half, so the music shifts with it. There is a small correction I would make to the fingering of the chords in the chart. It suggests playing the C chord with your third finger. But using you pinkie (little finger) allows for a much easier transition into the Bbadd9. You could keep your pinky there through all the chords (creating a Dm7 rather than Dm). It creates an effective drone through the chord changes.

The rhythm for this second section is not played the same every time, but I play the basic pattern like this:

Postcards from Italy ukulele tab Beirut strumming pattern

The up arrows indicated down strums and the down arrows indicate up strums (don’t look at me, I didn’t invent the system).

Here’s the rhythm played slowly, then up to tempo.

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61 Comments

  1. maduke July 6th, 2007 9:56 am

    what would i play without you? great selection of songs here.

  2. Woodshed July 6th, 2007 6:29 pm

    Thanks, maduke. Glad to be of service.

  3. chris July 13th, 2007 4:22 pm

    hey, good job with the uke tabs. i’ve tabbed beirut’s entire gulag orkestar album (http://www.saltatory.net/blog/?page_id=12). I’ve found that Faug (2110) works better than A in postcards from italy.

  4. Woodshed July 13th, 2007 10:39 pm

    Nice one, Chris.

    To my ears A sounds better. We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.

  5. Uke Hunt » Beirut - Elephant Gun July 18th, 2007 10:26 pm

    [...] tabbing Postcards From Italy, I was going to make my way through the whole of Gulag Orkestar. Luckily, Chris from Saltatory [...]

  6. changstah July 28th, 2007 3:28 am

    This is awesome! Any tips on how to hammer down from the 2nd to the 3rd fret? My hands are small and stupid; and I’m having the hardest time hammering down from the 2nd to 3rd fret.

  7. Woodshed July 28th, 2007 11:00 am

    The main tip for hammer-ons is to make sure you’ve got a firm grip on the back of the neck so you’ve got something to push against. Other than that, it’s a matter of practice to make sure you are accurate and have enough force.

    In this song the only hammer-ons are from the open string to the second fret. The notes on the third fret are all strummed which means you don’t have to worry about producing the volume.

  8. Uke Hunt » Most Popluar Ukulele Tablature August 15th, 2007 8:06 pm

    [...] 1. Beirut – Postcards From Italy [...]

  9. Cheeky Polenta November 27th, 2007 11:19 pm

    Thank you so much (I mean, easily a hundred, though not a million…come on, you’ve not landed on Saturn for freaks’ sake) for this tab. I’m a struggling uke player who loves Beirut (the band not the place, though I’ve never been, so I’m not writing it off, I’m just not qualified to judge, though I might be going in April, as it happens…I’ll let you know how it goes) but has never been able to “get” it. It’s so clear now, with the hammer on to form the first F chord, then A. I can see how it all works. I’m like Sylar. I have you to thank.

    Now, any help in reading the tab for Toxic…I’ve been to EZFolk, but I still can’t see what symbol indicates a hammer on/pull off, etc.

    Less like Sylar now, I admit. But a good thing, no?

  10. Woodshed November 28th, 2007 7:02 pm

    La la la la Heroes spoilers la la la la not listening la la la la

    A hundred ‘you’re welcome’s right back at you.

    I think I’ll have to write my own guide to reading tab.

  11. Cheeky Polenta November 28th, 2007 7:23 pm

    See, now that would be great. The basics I get, but I can’t work out what’s a slide, what’s a hammer on, what’s a pull off.

    Story of my life, I suppose.

  12. Woodshed November 28th, 2007 8:44 pm

    I’ll get a proper one done sometime, but here’s a quickie.

    It is a bit confusing. Hammer ons and pull offs look the same. They’re both arches between the fret numbers. If the second number is higher than the first, it’s a hammer on. If the second number is smaller, it’s a pull off.

    A slide has an arch and a diagonal line between them.

    Here’s a quick image of them:

    hampull.jpg

    Hope that helps

  13. Cheeky Polenta November 28th, 2007 11:42 pm

    Perfect, thanks. That is exactly what I wanted to know. A thousand golden Fluke points to you sir.

  14. Erin January 21st, 2008 8:30 am

    Hi there, great tab- this song is the reason I decided to learn the uke! I have managed to get the first half of the song alright but was wondering if you could help me out with the change of strumming pattern in the second half. Thanks.

  15. Woodshed January 21st, 2008 7:15 pm

    Hi, Erin. The basic pattern is this:

    Postcards from Italy ukulele tab Beirut strumming pattern

    If you don’t read tab, the up arrows indicated down strums and the down arrows indicate up strums. I’ve recorded myself playing the rhythm slowly then up to tempo here:

    http://ukulelehunt.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/postcards.mp3

    Hope that helps.

  16. Niko January 27th, 2008 8:38 pm

    My search to find accurate beirut uke tabs is finally over!… Thank you Woodshed SO MUCH. If I were to make the request of Rhineland (Heartland) could you help me figure it out?

  17. Beirut - Gulag Orkestar | Uke Hunt February 19th, 2008 6:12 pm

    [...] Postcards from Italy (Chords and Tab) [...]

  18. Paz March 31st, 2008 5:18 am

    This is a damn fine description of how to play this song. I also have trouble reading the strumming descriptions, but I know it’s near impossible to illustrate them.

  19. Woodshed March 31st, 2008 5:25 pm

    I was just about to write, “Ukulala has done a really useful video about…” Then I realised it was you.

  20. Paz from Ukulala.com March 31st, 2008 6:42 pm

    haha, well, I appreciate the thought (and the plug, of course)!

    yeah, i did work it out eventually, from your description and from videos I found of other people covering it. The strumming is the hardest part to figure out or explain.

  21. Adagio May 30th, 2008 10:17 pm

    Great! Thank you for this tab. I finally managed it to play this song right, but I still have one trouble, moving my index finger from the third string to the second string when changing from A to F… It’s because how I hold my uke, the steel goes down when i try to change to a lower string. Does anyone have a idea how to hold my uke in a better way so the steel wont go down?

  22. Adam June 12th, 2008 4:55 am

    What do you mean by “the steel goes down?”

  23. Dan July 20th, 2008 3:27 am

    excuse my ignorance (very new to ukulele), but I think the end bit goes like this.

    3-2-1-3 then 0-0-1-0 then 0-2-1-0 then 0-0-0-3

    i’m sure if you try that progression, you will agree!

    thanks for the tab though, this was the first song I tried on ukulele
    -Dan

  24. Woodshed July 20th, 2008 11:11 am

    Thanks for your opinion, Dan.

  25. scarlett August 1st, 2008 6:39 pm

    i was just wondering what my ukulele should be tuned to
    basic
    or anything in particular?

  26. Woodshed August 3rd, 2008 4:29 pm

    Scarlett: It’s in standard tuning: GCEA.

  27. more February 21st, 2009 1:07 pm

    there something different if i want to play that with my soprano ukelele??
    that sounds different because the 4th string

    thanks!

  28. Woodshed February 21st, 2009 4:13 pm

    more: No, it’s exactly the same. It’s played on re-entrant ukulele.

  29. Jane May 26th, 2009 3:39 am

    still one of my favorite songs to play. thanks for the tab!

  30. Woodshed May 26th, 2009 9:47 pm

    Jane: You’re very welcome.

  31. Jamiro June 6th, 2009 10:57 am

    Thank you very much for tabbing that song. I just discovered Beirut and I was very happy to find this here. I would have one minor addition though:
    Right before the second part starts and he’s just shrumming the F chord for a few seconds, I think he adds a C to the chord, so he plays
    2-0-1-3

  32. Woodshed June 6th, 2009 6:34 pm

    Jamiro: Thanks for the tip.

  33. olivia January 8th, 2010 4:49 pm

    I haven’t been playing ukulele for long, although i play the guitar.. ehm.. i just wonder how you tune the ukulele for this song? Mine sounds a bit higher than the one on the cd. :)

  34. angel July 4th, 2010 8:09 pm

    hi, i would want to know what kind of ukelele plays beirut..can you say me
    thankss

  35. Woodshed July 8th, 2010 9:25 pm
  36. Redmond October 9th, 2010 6:59 pm

    Just about finished composing a full instrumental cover of this, pretty excited to finally be able to play my ukulele in my jazz band.

  37. Woodshed October 12th, 2010 9:20 pm

    Redmond: Cool! If you make a recording, I’d love to hear it.

  38. Cody December 9th, 2010 8:56 am

    It seems like when I watch videos of Zach playing the second half of postcards, that there are more strums thrown into the twelve beat pattern- but he’s playing so fast that I can’t discern what he is actually strumming. What are your thoughts? Could your pattern indeed be what he is playing, just more rapidly?

  39. Redmond December 11th, 2010 4:38 pm

    @Cody, I believe he does some triplets in there because when I play it and add some of them in it sounds very close to how he plays on the recordings. It may not be exactly correct, but that’s just my two cents =)

  40. Timo December 22nd, 2010 1:29 am

    The second progression seems to be a little bit like Dan says, 4 chords: Bbadd9, F, Dminor and C:

    3-2-1-3 then 2-0-1-0 (he sometimes hammers on from 0-0-1-0), then 2-2-1-0 then 0-0-0-3

    (oh, I figured out you should download the tab, it already mentions all chords, sorrry!)

    Amazing site, by the way!

  41. Woodshed December 22nd, 2010 11:53 am

    Timo: Thanks.

  42. Kurt February 27th, 2011 5:07 am

    It seems as though it’s like exactly right except your tab seems to be higher than beirut’s version on youtube. Maybe they were tunning a half-step down?

  43. Dbird October 18th, 2011 3:00 am

    Sounds perfect. Love the Beirut tabs and many, more. Although this is my first post, this has been my number one source for a while.

  44. Woodshed October 18th, 2011 3:14 pm

    Dbird: Thanks for joining the conversation.

  45. Bully Wee Dixson November 13th, 2011 7:30 pm

    This might be partially because I’m a beginner/I don’t have the best strings, but I like playing the C chord in the second half of the song “0433″ instead of “0003″. I just like the sound of it better in relation to the other chords. It keeps the tone bright where as the other way just kinda takes me out of the mood for a moment. Again this might be due to a harsh twang “0003″ C chords produce on my uke :/, but for those beginners with temperamental ukes, maybe this will help you!

  46. Woodshed November 14th, 2011 7:29 pm

    Bully Wee Dixson: Yeah, that’s a very good substitution to make.

  47. LDVT December 31st, 2011 8:18 pm

    When I do the hammer on, you can barely hear the note. What is your advice as to make the hammer on louder?

  48. tozz January 9th, 2012 8:36 pm

    I’m having the same problem as LDVT. Even if I focus on hitting the top string, it just doesn’t sound the same. Any advice?

  49. Cody January 9th, 2012 10:42 pm

    LDVT and tozz, the harder you hammer on, the more pronounced it will be. Also, it could be your strings. I replaced my Kala all nylgut strings with some Martin ones, and it definitely ruined Postcards, the tone just wasn’t the same. I put more Kala Nylguts on and it sounds perfect again.

  50. Lisa April 1st, 2012 11:32 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this. I love this song and can’t wait to play it!

  51. Woodshed April 6th, 2012 8:38 am

    Lisa: Have fun with it!

  52. J February 11th, 2013 10:39 pm

    “There is a small correction I would make to the fingering of the chords in the chart.”

    Where’s “the chart?” I don’t see a C chord anywhere.

  53. Woodshed February 12th, 2013 8:05 am

    J: Click the orange box under the video.

  54. Adriatic June 12th, 2013 10:02 pm

    just a small tip/correction, zach plays the very last strum in verses differently so instead of playing

    0000
    1111
    0000
    3202

    you can play

    0000
    1110
    0000
    3200

    same goes for the A chord (you can see this in live videos like red hot + rio etc)

  55. Woodshed June 13th, 2013 9:50 am

    Adriatic: Thanks for the correction.

  56. Justin August 12th, 2013 3:32 pm

    I just wanted to mention the bflat add 9 bit sounds closer as a B-flat major 7 add 9 to my ears not much of a difference difficulty wise but
    sounds much closer to the recording. when I had figured the song out by ear.

  57. justin August 12th, 2013 8:36 pm

    about the previous comment i meant more if you hold down the bflat major 7 with just the pink on the A string instead of doing the bflatadd9 aka the bflat chord with the pink on the a string 3rd fret its easier to switch and flows nicer in that last part rather than wasting your time baring over E and A strings when it doesn’t really do anything and makes the same sound.

  58. justin August 12th, 2013 8:36 pm

    about the previous comment i meant more if you hold down the bflat major 7 with just the pink on the A string instead of doing the bflatadd9 aka the bflat chord with the pink on the a string 3rd fret its easier to switch and flows nicer in that last part rather than wasting your time baring over E and A strings when it doesn’t really do anything and makes the same sound.

  59. justin August 12th, 2013 9:04 pm

    also it almost sounds like the start of that last part is a very fast hammer on from bflat major 7 to the bflat add 9 again this is all pretty much the same thing but its a little subtle thing i noticed in the song.

  60. ola September 22nd, 2013 11:58 pm

    (not sure if i just missed it in the comments but) Right before he switches to the second half, and right after all the F and A hammer on stuff, he seems to do the hammer on stuff twice but with higher chords. Does anyone know what chords these are or how to play them? Or any really close-up clear video where i could learn it? Thanks!!!

  61. Esther November 25th, 2013 9:08 am

    ola: he plays a f/c chord twice before the second half of the song. So in the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYiCGLgRuAs at 1:53 he does the f hammer on twice, then at 1:58 he just adds the c to it.

    I’m still having trouble with the strumming pattern on the second part. I keep wanting to throw more strums in but it doesn’t sound quite right. I know Zach switches it up and throws in whatever and it sounds amazing. Here’s my favorite version someone else did. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybhVsZHnC7k I would love to get her strumming pattern down. Even with the slow-motion youtube setting, the video isn’t close enough for me to catch it well. Anyone else have any thoughts?

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